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Wind turbines in forest

The Green Mountain National Forest in central and southern Vermont
offers the public more than 400,000 acres of land to enjoy and steward
for future generations. When it was created in 1932, the intent was to
balance the many demands on the land while conserving clean water and
forest resources, including wilderness, wildlife, timber and
recreational areas.

How do industrial wind turbines on top of the mountains fit into the
vision for this forest land?

The U.S. Forest Service is weighing this question as it considers a
developer’s proposal to build and operate a wind generation plant on two
ridge lines in the national forest. If this “special-use authorization”
is approved, the Deerfield Wind project would be the first wind energy
development allowed in any of the Forest Service’s more than 150
national forests across the country.

The Green Mountain National Forest could be invaded by as many as 30 of
the 370-foot-tall wind towers with their accompanying transmission lines
and concrete pads. They would cover 80 acres in Readsboro and Searsburg,
a massive expansion of the existing Searsburg wind project.

Vermonters share a sense of pride and ownership in the national forest.
These are public lands for all to share. More than 3 million people
visit them every year. With such a large number of visitors, the demands
are broad and not always compatible.

Problems inevitably arise when interests clash and changes are
introduced. Many people have spoken out about proposed changes in a
recent draft revision of the forest management plan by the Forest
Service, which updates the plan every 10 or 15 years.

Since the draft document was presented in April, environmental groups
have been highly critical of it for not protecting enough wilderness and
for proposing to open some roads and off-road trails to all-terrain

These are issues that the Forest Service must reconcile. There should be
as much concern among environmentalists and the users and keepers of the
national forest about the Deerfield Wind project. Vermonters must pay
attention to this proposed new use for public lands.

Tonight, the U.S. Forest Service is holding its second “scoping meeting”
in an elementary school in the southern Vermont community of
Jacksonville to discuss the application by Deerfield Wind. Written
comments are also being taken by the agency until Aug. 16. A review of
the proposal could take about 18 months.

The new generation of turbines planned by Deerfield are not like the 11
old models at Searsburg, which are less than 200 feet tall and
unlighted. Imagine adding 170 feet in height and Federal
Aviation-required strobe lights – on 30 wind towers – and you will get
the picture.

It is troubling that the U.S. Forest Service is even entertaining the
idea. Enormous commercial wind turbines do not belong on Vermont’s ridge
lines. They do not belong on the tops of our mountains in national
forest land.

Speak out for your ridge lines and public land now before the
opportunity passes and the Green Mountains become industrial wind parks.

Editorial Staff